NBA Draft speculation, a tradition as old as time. Who will be drafted where, which team will uncover the hidden gem and which team will select the newest bust. This is not one such ritual but speculation on where the NBA’s next huge prize will land.
Victor Wembanyama is arguably the most highly coveted and hyped NBA draft prospect since LeBron James. Who will take him in the 2023 NBA Draft and land a generational talent that can transform their team for the next ten to fifteen years? This is who is most likely to acquire him half way through the current NBA season in part two of this article series.
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Ahh yes, the Charlotte Hornets. How the slightly mighty have fallen. The Hornets were a play-in team last year, finishing as the tenth seed in the Eastern Conference with a fair amount of promise and potential going into this year. Heading into the offseason last year, it would be fair to say that Miles Bridges pleading no contest to domestic violence charges was not on everyone’s bingo card.
The Hornets have not been able to supplement Bridges’ offensive output in his absence and LaMelo Ball missed significant time to open the season which has tremendously hampered the team from competing. The rest of the roster is relatively unimpressive outside of Ball and rookie Mark Williams with a stable of overpaid veterans past their primes and undisciplined youth without much constructive guidance or development.
Assessing The Fit
The Hornets would be in all honesty one of the least favorable landing spots for Wembanyama. Ball and Wembanyama would be a tantalizing duo on paper with high flying lobs, pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop actions but the roster outside of those two doesn’t inspire much confidence.
The ownership tenure of Michael Jordan hasn’t demonstrated to this point that the organization is willing to spend the money to put together a contender. The Hornets up to now have been the only team in the NBA not to exceed the luxury tax while simultaneously overspending on mid-level free agents historically. The Hornets have made some head scratching decisions in recent years and there is little faith that they would construct a roster around Ball and Wembanyama to seriously compete.
The only foreseeable scenario where the Hornets may luck into success is if Bridges manages to come back on a discounted contract and serves a suspension for his domestic violence charges. There needs to be accountability there on the part of Bridges because the organizations need to trust that the star is stable mentally and can handle the rigors of the NBA lifestyle.
A lineup consisting of Wembanyama, Ball and Bridges would have promise but the Hornets would still need to add more pieces around them with a mixture of experienced veterans that can provide leadership and mentorship with young explosive slashers and floor spacers to complement the skillsets of their big three.
San Antonio Spurs
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The San Antonio Spurs are not a flashy or sexy destination for most NBA fans but allowing for Wembanyama to study under the tutelage of head coach Gregg Popovich cannot be understated. You wouldn’t need to search long through the pages of Spurs history to see the work Popovich achieved with the likes of Hall of Fame big men David Robinson and Tim Duncan. If there is anyone capable of unlocking Wembanyama’s true potential, it would be Pop.
Assessing The Fit
The Spurs are intriguing outside of Popovich’s influence, specifically the way their roster is constructed. Jeremy Sochan, first round pick out of Baylor, blends really well with Wembanyama at the four with his already elite defensive skill and instincts. Sochan is still developing on the offensive end but his length and speed in tandem with underrated passing ability would make up for those deficits in his game in the short term.
The Spurs are likely going to deal current center Jakob Poetl so that will not be an issue if the Spurs land the top draft pick. The Spurs have some underrated pieces including point guard Tre Jones, shooting guard Devin Vassell and current leading scorer Keldon Johnson to build around Wembanyama.
The Spurs will need to continue to shed their older pieces on the roster but their young core may possess the the highest amount of promise and compliment the talents of Wembanyama the most of any team in the running for his talents. This team has the potential to make a sizable jump in performance with the addition of the number one draft pick.
Fight To The Finish
The landscape of the NBA this year has been extremely competitive and balanced with most teams in both conferences competing for playoff spots in some form. There have been many surprises in that regard but we will see in the second half of the season if any considerable separation takes place in the playoff race.
The possibility of fringe teams presently that start to slip down the standings later in the season may embrace the idea of landing the golden goose and take their foot off the gas. The NBA this season has been wild in terms of crushing and exceeding expectations so this list by the time April rolls around could be completely different but for now the Wembanyama Sweepstakes continues…
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